Cody Alan, host of CMT's Hot 20 Countdown and producer of iHeartRadio's CMT After Midnite and CMT Radio Live, publicly came out as gay today with a heartfelt Instagram post directed at fans and followers.
"This is not a choice I made, but something I've known about myself my whole life," he wrote. "Through life's twists and turns, marriage, divorce, fatherhood, successes, failures - I've landed on this day, a day when I'm happier and healthier than I’ve ever been."
Alan, a South Carolina native, has enjoyed a distinguished career in broadcast, working in terrestrial radio for many years with stops in South Carolina, Florida and Texas before moving to CMT and taking over the video-countdown show in 2013. He was named the Academy of Country Music's National Broadcast Personality in 2010 and 2013.
Earlier in his life, Alan was married and fathered two children (now in their teens) before coming out to his family and going through the process of divorce. They all remain close and supportive.
In Alan's own words, here are his thoughts on coming out, the support of the artist community in country music and the sometimes overlooked diversity of its fans.
You have some fears going into sharing so much of your heart with people. So much of my story is filled with almost real-life country lyrics but I feel so good now because I've just seen this outpouring of support. And if I seem a little overwhelmed, it's because I am seeing nonstop heart emojis pop up on my phone and Facebook and everywhere else. I'm truly grateful for all the love and it's just wonderful to see, especially coming from fighting some battles to get to this day.
I wanted to be honest with myself and my country music family. I think being anything but honest falls short of a true and happy, open life. For me [coming out] was really just about, "Let me be as honest as I can."
Country music is very warm and welcoming. The people are very real and so kind. So I knew when I said this there would be a lot of support and acceptance. I've been lucky enough to become friends with so many of these artists that, as I shared my story over the past couple of years, I was met with great love and acceptance. Today, with the comments on social media, we're seeing a lot of love and warmth.
Country music fans come in different shapes and sizes and shades. We're not all the same. Even though some of our hearts beat to a different drum, I've found that there's a place for me here and people of all different kinds. There's a great Miranda Lambert song, "All Kinds of Kinds" – I think that's pretty indicative of country music. There's a great variety of different kinds of people that love it. That's certainly been my experience.
"I realized that this could have a positive impact on many people who may be country music fans and may feel like they don't fit in."
The one thing I was most concerned about is my family, my children, and how they might be affected if I were to speak up. They've been so encouraging. For my teenage kids, to them, being gay is like your eye color [laughs]. It's just there. So they have been nothing but encouraging about me stepping up and sharing this with the world.
From a professional standpoint, you do consider all the variables and you think about how other people would be affected by it. I realized that this could have a great, positive impact on many people who may be country music fans and may feel like they don't fit in. But they see a guy like me on TV who is country and gay, and they recognize that there's a place for you here, and that country music is a warm, welcoming space.
When you have to reveal [yourself] to people you love [and] you don't know what the consequences or their reaction will be, there's a lot of heart in that, and a lot of prayer and love you have to have for yourself and for those you're sharing with. There's been some dark moments, but I'm happy to say that I do feel like I've reached the peak of a mountain here, and it's all good.
Nothing really changes with what I do and how I interview guests for the shows I do. I'll still be the same guy, but I think from the early response today that it'll be a good thing because people will now know me as a more authentic and real person and understand where I come from. I think that can only be good in making connections with fans and people in the audience who I speak to every day on radio or who see me on TV.
I've been humbled by the fact that I get to do this for a living – talk on the radio and get to be at CMT on the Countdown and I get to do so many cool things. I feel like there's some trust there that people have with me and I only think this makes it stronger. I'm the same guy I was before and I'll be the same guy after. This only means you know a little more about me. But it doesn't change how I'll conduct myself or how I'll ask questions of the stars – it only makes me a little happier that people know a little bit more about me.
I've arrived at this day through a lot of emotion and I think it's important that people know that love is love is love. And we should all remember that in the coming days, whatever political things are happening. Ultimately, I think more honest voices speaking up is a good thing for all of us.
(As told to Jon Freeman)